sSoon there will be no new comedic adventures for Gaston Lagaffe after all: Belgian publisher Dupuis wants to wait for the landmark decision of the Brussels court in September, thus delaying the publication of the popular twenty-second album in the series. Until next year. This was announced by Dupuis in a press release marking the start of the operation initiated by Isabel Franquin to protect the work of her father André Franquin (1924 to 1997). Pre-release of Gaston’s newly drawn episodes in the comic Spiro was postponed after only one episode was published.
This is a surprising development. The new volume, drawn by Canadian Delaf (real name Mark Delafontaine), was scheduled for release on October 19. This was announced by Dupuis president Stéphane Beaujean in March at the Angoulême comic festival. Postponing the date means abandoning the intention to revive the iconic comic book character in time for the publishing house’s centenary celebration. Instead, Dupuy is looking for a “calm”, hoping for a future “calm and objective discussion” and an opportunity to express his position convincingly. Despite all this appeasement, the publisher leaves no doubt that he wants to maintain the goal of continuing the cult Francoin character.
There’s no harm in reassurance: The project to allow the lazy but inventive office boy to try new adventures has caused heated debates in the comic scene and beyond for two months – the French and Belgian media are full of it because “Gaston” is about the legendary series. The situation is complex and touches on fundamental intellectual property issues: the publisher owns the commercial use rights, and Franquin has signed the relevant contracts; The heiress in turn retains the copyright and can insist on it if she is concerned about the safety of the work. She claims that her father was so opposed to his character that he survived his whole life.
Who is protesting everything against the new Gaston
On this point, it has recently received support from prominent comic book authors: on 3 May an open letter to Média Participations, Dupuis’ holding company (www.respectdesauteurs.com) was published; The 1,100 signatories (as of May 17) include David B, Etienne D’Avodou, Philippe Gillock, Terry Gronstein, Frank Le Gall, Jean-Christophe Menau, Benoit Peters and Zep. Gillock asserts that his cat character (“Le Chat”) should not survive him either, and Menu, with his usual liveliness, protests against the combination of “loyalty” and “unbridled commercial exploitation”.
Recently, there have also been voices expressing an aesthetic objection to continuity. The new Gaston original looks like a pea in a pod. According to Delaf, he divided Franquin’s work into thousands of files with shapes, objects, and situations; He relies on this rule of thumb to draw his masks. The accusation of copying and pasting was loud: Delaf not only succeeded in painting as Franken, but also took charge of the gags.
In short, respect for legacy has turned into pure plagiarism. On the Facebook page “Fans d’André Franquin” a post on March 30 shows what Delaf had transcribed with the help of the characters’ heads. In their open letter, fellow philanthropists spoke of an experience that should remain purely artistic (Daniel Goossens), and critical experiences of “zombies” (The List). Again, the thorny question arises of when drawing “in style” makes sense and legitimacy (“Spirou and Fantasio” or “Asterix” are good examples) and when it is commercial imitation.
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